Yesterday, I wanted a nice summer salad. A sharp-dressed pasta salad, maybe, or a creamy potato salad, something playful and flavorful and easy to scoop up with a spoon.
But in case you haven’t noticed, it’s not summer yet. (I do have arugula sprouting in the garden, though.)
Here’s a salad that plays pretends. It’s warmth comes not from the garden, but from last summer’s sun (and, well, from California), so it’s sort of an imposter. But it shouts with summery color and flavor in just the way I needed to hear, and it also happens to be quite healthy. I topped mine with toasted, chopped walnuts, for good measure.
Warm Red Quinoa Salad (PDF)
Sweet butternut squash and crunchy red quinoa make surprisingly good panfellows – as the quinoa cooks, the squash steams, and releases its soft edges into the grain, like it does in risotto. Spiked with the bright flavors of grape tomatoes and feta cheese, the salad makes for an easy, nutritious lunch.
TIME: 15 minutes
MAKES: 1 to 2 servings
1/4 cup red quinoa (white would work just as well)
1/2 cup water
1/2 pound chopped, peeled squash (about 1 1/2 cups of 3/4” chunks)
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
8 grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup loosely packed chopped fresh basil
Freshly ground pepper
Combine the quinoa, water, and salt in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over high heat. Reduce heat to low, stir in squash, cover, and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the quinoa has popped and the squash is soft. (You may need to add another tablespoon or two of water, depending on how juicy your squash is.)
Remove from heat and fold in the olive oil, tomatoes, feta, and basil. Season to taste with freshly ground pepper.